Human Rights Legal Support Centre


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View the Centre's media releases on Newswire

Durham Police “tailored testimony” not credible: Racial profiling upheld

Joseph Briggs went to buy a sandwich. What happened next was the subject of a five-day hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  In the end, Vice Chair Alison Renton concluded Briggs was the target of racial profiling by Durham Regional Police Services when they ran his license plate in the parking lot of a restaurant and then followed him one hour later.    

“Objectively, I find that the racial profiling and discrimination … experienced, which included being racially profiled by having his license plate checked because he was black, and ‘trying to catch him’ is a serious violation of the [Human Rights] Code. The applicant went out at 1:30 a.m. to purchase a sandwich from a 24-hour restaurant, a relatively simple exercise,” read Vice Chair Renton’s 73-page decision.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

To read the full decision, visit Canlii

McGill Engineering graduate not "permanent" enough for Imperial Oil

Muhammad Taimoor Haseeb was the ideal candidate: top marks, student club president, mentor to fellow students and offered 4 full time jobs upon graduation.  Imperial Oil offered the young man a job as Project Engineer on December 2, 2014.  Imperial Oil rescinded the offer of employment on January 8, 2015 when they learned Mr. Haseeb was not eligible to work in Canada on a "permanent" basis.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Indigenous Human Rights Project launched in Sudbury

The N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre welcomed the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) to launch the Provincial Aboriginal Human Rights Training Initiative.

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Rural siblings fired for taking religious holiday – Rights Tribunal awards $17,500

Country Herbs fired a 16-year old woman scheduled to work on one particular Thursday – an important religious holiday for her.  Her 14-year old brother, who was not scheduled to work that shift, was also fired.  The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found, in H.T. v ES Holdings Inc. o/a Country Herbs that the “expectation that H.T. would work on the holiday in accordance with the attendance policy or be fired was discriminatory.”

“The employer’s position was completely indefensible.  Notice was provided and the owner had one fewer employee for one day – out of 23 workers packing herbs.  A reasonable approach to religious accommodation is to weigh the impact and err on the side of respect,” said Zahra Binbrek, the young people’s lawyer in Windsor from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

In the decision, the Tribunal found the employer “did not give any serious thought to alternatives” to accommodate the young woman’s religion.  “The only alternative offered was for H.T. to work at midnight,” the decision read, even though the employer had previously agreed neither H.T. nor her brother would work past 10:00 p.m.  Her brother, the Tribunal found, was “fired because of his association with his sister who had asserted her right not to work on the holiday.”

The Tribunal ordered the company to prepare an internal human rights policy that specifically includes a section on discrimination on the basis of religion. In addition, H.T. was awarded $10,000 for the discrimination and $1,927 for lost wages.  Her brother was awarded $7,500 and $6690 for lost wages.

Metcap settles tenant’s human rights claim with new Ontario-wide disability policies

TORONTO, Aug 11, 2015 - One tenant’s human rights application has resulted in a province-wide agreement with one of Ontario’s largest landlords. Metcap Living Management Inc. has agreed to implement a comprehensive policy and procedure relating to the accommodation of disabilities in all buildings managed by them in Ontario. Metcap manages over 20,000 rental units across the province.

"We hope other landlords follow their lead," said Bruce Best, Counsel from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. “Accommodation of disabilities is already the law, but tenants need to know their rights and have a way to exercise those rights,” continued Best.

"I am thrilled that the result is going to have an impact across Ontario," said Sparks.

Important inclusions in the new Metcap policy include:

  • accepting the accommodation request in good faith
  • taking an active role in possible solutions are investigated
  • getting expert opinion or advice where needed
  • dealing with accommodation requests in a timely way
  • the Vice-President, Operations or the Property Manager will maintain carriage of the process

Ontario's Divisional Court rejects police and doctor's efforts to bar human rights claims

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre successfully defended two clients seeking justice beyond the narrow scope of a professional regulatory body's oversight. 

In the first case, on behalf of Mr. DeLottinville, the Court upheld the right to pursue a discrimination claim against a police officer at the Human Rights Tribunal, notwithstanding a prior discipline complaint under the Police Services Act.  The court refused to reject the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal in Claybourn v Toronto Police, allowing the human rights claim to proceed against the police. 

The second case, K.M. v Kodama, arose out of Human Rights Tribunal application against a doctor who allegedly subjected a transgender patient to discriminatory treatment.  The Centre successfully argued that the application should be allowed to proceed before the Tribunal despite a prior discipline complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons. 

In their ruling, the three judge panel underlined "victims of discrimination, who are often from marginalized communities, may be forced to choose which route to take" and that when "professional regulatory tribunals exercise their mandate in a diligent and responsible way, public confidence is maintained and increased in the provision of services being regulated, such as police and medical services.  Human rights tribunals have as their goal the provision of ready access to remedies, whether systemic or personal, designed to prevent discriminatory behaviour and to compensate the victims of such behaviour."

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Landmark human rights ruling highlights abuse of migrant workers

Justicia for Migrant Workers intervened in OPT v Presteve Foods Limited and was represented by the Centre. The two applicants (who originally numbered 39) were represented by Unifor.

The Centre hired expert Dr. Kerry Preibisch who provided evidence about the nature of migrant worker programs in Canada.  Based on Dr. Preibisch’s evidence, the Vice Chair commented on “the particular and special vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Ontario, especially in light of the closed work permit that requires them to be tied to one employer and so be under the constant threat and fear of losing their employment and being repatriated without reason and without any avenue for appeal or review.” 

The Vice Chair noted the employer was “repeatedly explicit about this threat to send her back to Mexico if she did not comply with his demands and had demonstrated that he was capable of doing so by repatriating other women.”  The employer’s ‘demands’ included repeated sexual assault.

The Vice Chair also found that he had no jurisdiction to make any orders about the Temporary and Foreign Worker Program as it is a federal program, the province was not a party to the proceeding, and the Tribunal only has jurisdiction in Ontario.

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre urges the provincial and federal governments to read the evidence in this case and develop protections for migrant workers in Canada.

See our joint media release with Unifor and Justicia for Migrant Workers here.

Read the decision here.

Legal Centre defends human rights decisions at Ontario’s Divisional Court

TORONTO, April 20, 2015 – The Human Rights Legal Support Centre was in Ontario’s Divisional Court defending two cases today involving decisions of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. 

In the first case, on behalf of Mr. DeLottinville, the Centre asked the court to uphold the Human Rights Tribunal decision in Claybourn v Toronto Police allowing a claimant to file a human rights application even where a complaint has been filed under the Police Services Act.  In Claybourn v Toronto Police, the Centre successfully argued at the Tribunal that, as the Police Services Act only deals with discipline against an individual officer, DeLottinville has a right to advance his human rights claim. 

“Employment-related discipline offers no remedy for the person harmed. At the Human Rights Tribunal, a claimant can ask for both personal compensation and concrete changes to an organization’s practices. We are simply asking the Court to uphold the Tribunal’s decision and allow Mr. DeLottinville to present evidence of his discrimination claim,” argued Kathy Laird, Executive Director of the Centre.

Intervenors in OPP v. DeLottinville include the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.  

The second case (K.M. v Kodama), involving the ability of K.M to advance a human rights claim despite a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, will follow OPP v. DeLottinville tomorrow, April 21.

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides free legal support to people across Ontario whose human rights under Ontario’s Human Rights Code have been violated. 

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Fourth and final municipality settles legal challenge over discriminatory bylaws - Ontarians with disabilities free to live in neighbourhood of their choice

Four years ago, eight people with disabilities filed human rights applications against Toronto, Sarnia, Smiths Falls and Kitchener to challenge mandatory separation distances for homes for Ontarians with disabilities.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Disabled northern Ontario travellers settle human rights claim with ONTC

Human rights claims settled with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) allowing northern Ontarians with disabilities to have more transportation options. Bradley Bondar and Lisa Buck’s claims make sure vehicles have accessible washrooms.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Hockey Canada embraces gender identity inclusion

Hockey Canada has agreed to make changes to protect young players in Ontario from discrimination and harassment based on a player’s transgender status.  These changes resolve a human rights application Jesse Thompson filed after facing difficulties at his local arena.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Prospective tenant awarded $10,000 for landlord’s discriminatory treatment

A young woman was denied an apartment because she was under the age of 18, something that is illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found Havcare Investments and Ms. Carolyn Goodman had violated the Code, fabricated evidence and attempted to get a witness to lie on the stand.

The Tribunal awarded the young woman $10,000 in damages for the discrimination and ordered the landlord to hire an expert to develop a human rights policy and train staff.

Read the full HRTO decision

Woman living with developmental disability fights for her right to legal wages

For 10 years Terrie Lynn Garrie worked for $1.25 an hour, side by side with workers paid the legal minimum wage.  Ms. Garrie lives with an intellectual disability.  The Centre represented her in arguing that her low wages amounted to discrimination on the basis of disability. 

On February 28th, 2014, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario released a decision finding that Terri-Lynn’s employer discriminated against her by paying her less than other workers.  The employer was ordered to pay Terri-Lynn over $161,730 in lost income and $25,000 for insulting her dignity.  The Tribunal also recommended that the Ontario Human Rights Commission investigate how widespread this practice is and make possible recommendations to the Ontario government on how to rectify the situation.

Read the full HRTO decision

Read the Toronto Star story

Halton School Board and Transportation Service amend transportation policies and procedures to address parents’ disabilities

TORONTO, October 16, 2013 – A human rights matter was settled involving a single parent’s request to move her children’s school bus stop closer to her home, owing to her disabilities.

The Halton District School Board and Halton Student Transportation Services agreed to add a school bus stop closer to the family home. They also agreed to amend their transportation policies and procedures respectively to accommodate parents with similar needs.

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Toronto Police and educator resolve racial profiling case

The Toronto Police Service (TPS), the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), and educator Dr. Clem Marshall have reached an agreement to settle his Human Rights Application. The terms of the settlement are confidential and neither the TPS nor the TPSB has admitted any liability.

Dr. Marshall and a friend were driving in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto when stopped by police in 2009, an incident Marshall attributed to racial profiling. "Humiliation hurts. It has left a deep scar. I felt I had to stand up because we want our youth to know we have a right to defend our dignity. We can use this incident to continue to build a stronger community."

Read the full media release on Canada Newswire

Read the Toronto Star Story